Ms. Pac-man is alive!

Last night, a miracle happened! I got the game up and working, and it is a beautiful thing. I will try to get photos of it working here pretty soon, but first, how did I do it?

Two weekends back I had been talking with Robert at the Arcade auction here in Indy. I was asking him if he knew anybody that would be willing to help me get some of my machines working, which I have been asking of people for a year or so now. He asked specifically what my Ms. Pac-man was doing, and I explained to him that the power supply was bad, and was dropping amps off one of the leads. So then he tells me that Bob Roberts makes a kit to repair those old power supplys, replacing some capacitors and whatnot.

So, I checked it out. I didn’t see the actual part about the capacitors, but Bob Roberts puts together what he calls a “Pacpower” kit. It is a way to power the PCB with a switching power supply and some custom wiring, all while keeping the original wiring in tact. This answered my biggest questions, because I read you had to hack the wiring all apart if you just wanted to switch in a new switching power supply for the old transformer.

The kit was more expensive than I anticipated, if I wanted to get a new switcher. I knew I had a couple of switchers, but wanted to make sure that I did it right, and I didn’t get to the point of powering on the game with the kit and have the switcher be bad and leave me to test to figure that out. I had looked at Bob Roberts Pacpower kit instructions online, and kind of assumed that it came ready to go, plug and play, but I was disappointed to find out that wasn’t the case. You got all of the parts and you did some assembly.

I got it on Monday, but not figuring that it would work, I didn’t do anything with it right away. I still figured that even if I did the kit, the monitor and PCB both were unknowns on whether or not they were in working condition. Last night I set aside some time to put the Pacpower kit together. It took me awhile, probably about 2 hours, to put together. I am not an expert, and someone who has more experience and didn’t have to read and re-read things carefully on Bob Roberts website, probably could have done it in an hour or less. I made some mistakes, which I will get into later, and had to correct those and figure some other things out, but finally I got everything made and screwed up inside the cabinet.

I crossed my fingers, plugged the game in, and I heard a pop from the monitor, which was knew. I rushed around to the other side, and my game was on! It was already set on freeplay, which I thought was interesting, so I pressed the player one button and away I went. I also had the speedup chip already installed! I was so pumped about all of this. The weirdest thing, the immediate thought I had after I started to play was, “I wonder if I should install a 96-1 kit on here and get all of the games.”

I took a look at a couple of other things, I looked at the manuals and figured out which one was the sound pot, and got that turned down. It was arcade style volume, and it no longer needed to be so loud in my basement. The marquee light doesn’t seem to be working, and I thought it did before I did this, so I will have to do some testing on that to make sure I didn’t mess it up. The monitor has some pretty solid screen burn, but you know what, I don’t really care right now. I can be picky later.

But after hearing the original story of this game, and how it sat in a storage unit, I was suprised about the “freeplay” being set and the speed up chip installed. It must not have sit in that storage that long is my thought, that maybe the last user had it in a personal non-commercial setting.

Either way, all I know is that my game works, I got it to work, and I am pumped that my ratio of non working games is now less than those that I have that do work or are at least close. Sarah was confused at how I was acting, but happy for me that I got it up and running.

Note: Back to the Bob Roberts Pacpower kit. The instructions online are very good for a newbie to install this kit in their Ms. Pac-man. However, towards the end he trails off on some small details that he takes for granted that most people know, and I had no idea because I am so slow at this type of stuff. I hope to take his tutorial and make an little addendum section and post that here in case anyone needs further explanation of some things.

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